Homebound vaccines

PACE RI RN Gladys Ansah administers Florence Sarrocco her COVID-19 vaccination in her Blackstone Street apartment on Wednesday.

WOONSOCKET — Efforts to vaccinate city residents against COVID-19 are continuing as the state opens up – and Florence Sarrocco, 65, found on Wednesday that help is available to get a shot without even leaving your home.

Sarrocco took advantage of the home-bound vaccination program offered by the Rhode Island Department of Health through its partner providers, like PACE RI.

Gladys Ansah, a PACE registered nurse, stopped by Sarrocco’s apartment on Blackstone Street Wednesday morning to administer to her the first of two required doses of the Moderna vaccine.

After completing an interview with Sarrocco and checking for any symptoms that would preclude the vaccination, Ansah gave Sarrocco her shot.

“That didn’t hurt,” Sarrocco said after.

Sarrocco had been unable to go out to get the shot since she doesn’t have a car and doesn’t drive.

“I had no way to go, and it is too hard to find a ride,” she explained.

But when a nurse stopped by for a regular health check, Sarrocco said she learned she could get the vaccination right in her own home.

“She said they have a nurse that will give it you, so I said yes,” Sarrocco said.

The arrangements were made for Ansah’s visit, and it all took only about a half hour to get Sarrocco vaccinated with her first dose.

Her second shot will follow in about four weeks, and Ansah will be back to deliver it.

“I’ve done a lot,” Ansah said, noting she has been very busy giving shots at home since the program began.

“I can’t count how many now,” she said.

While the program had originally targeted approximately 2,000 home-bound Rhode Islanders, Martin Gallogly, a PACE spokesman, said the Department of Health is expanding it to anyone 50 and older through the end of June.

PACE-RI, which operates a health clinic and day center for seniors at 781 Social St., is scheduling appointments for the in-home visits via phone, by calling (401) 654-4645, or by email, at tforbes@pace-ri.org, Gallogly noted.

City Human Services Director Linda Plays stopped by to see Sarrocco get her shot on Wednesday and noted the city will be holding its own COVID-19 vaccination clinic for anyone 12 and older at the Holy Trinity Parish School on Park Avenue Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“I think it is great that people who can’t get out have an ability to get the shot,” Plays said of the PACE visit to Sarrocco’s home.

“It’s important for them to get vaccinated, and it should still be accessible even if they can’t get out,” Plays noted.

The Woonsocket Fire Department clinic at the former Our Lady Queen of Martyrs School at 1409 Park Ave. will be using the Pfizer vaccine, which is given in two doses three weeks apart.

Fire Chief Paul Shatraw had originally scheduled the clinic to distribute second shots to those 12 and older, but with a number of appointments still available, it was opened to anyone 12 and older seeking a vaccination, according to Plays.

Anyone interested in getting the shot – whether their first vaccination or second – can schedule an appointment by visiting vaccinateri.org or by calling Plays at (401) 767-9282 if they don’t have a computer and need assistance.

Thursday’s clinic follows local efforts to vaccinate city residents through pop-up clinics, like the one at the Social Street Dunkin’ Donuts recently, where even walk-ins could get a shot after completing the required paperwork and health check.

The shots are free of charge to recipients, and even the PACE at-home program is free.

Plays said people can still log onto vaccinateri.org and put in their zip codes to find the closest available clinic appointment.

Plays noted the program is beneficial to people like Sarrocco, who wanted the shot but couldn’t get out.

“If you haven’t gotten the shot, reach out to us and we will find you a place to get the shot, or reach out to our resource partners and have a home visit scheduled for you,” Plays said.

More than half of Rhode Island’s adult population has now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the vaccination rate overall has slowed significantly in the past month, according to data from the Rhode Island Department of Health.

PACE hopes that the expand in-home program can encourage vaccinations for residents who have been unable or reluctant to travel to a vaccination center.

“This is such an important program for residents who are waiting to get vaccinated,” said Betsy Canino, Chief of Clinical Services at PACE-RI. “There are so many folks who would jump at the chance to get their shot, but they haven’t had the time or transportation to do so.”

Not only are the shots helping to reopen Rhode Island’s public spaces, but they are putting people at ease as well – PACE-RI staff have been greeted with relief and appreciation at home vaccination visits all over the state, according to the organization.

“People are so grateful to get their shots at home,” said PACE-RI nurse Angela Flynn. “As soon as they see you with that cooler, their face lights up.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, residents can contact PACE-RI at (401) 654-4645 or at tforbes@pace-ri.org by email.

PACE-RI is a health plan for adults 55 and older who have chronic health needs but want to remain living at home. Founded in 2005, PACE-RI provides both the insurance and medical care, as well as a range of health and social services including adult day care, rides, and meals. For more information, visit www.pace-ri.org.

Follow Joseph Nadeau on Twitter @JNad75

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